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Clare, Philadelphia, PA

Adventures by Disney – Day 3 – Walking Tour of Rome and VIP Coliseum Tour

Posted: May 27 2014
Related Categories: Destinations Italy Resorts Disney Adventures By Disney Reviews

We were scheduled to meet in the library at 8:30 am.  The breakfast buffet (included) started at 7am.  Ardan and I decided to get up early and get breakfast at 7am and then get ready for the tour.  The breakfast included bread, croissants, assorted pastries, sausage, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, meats & cheeses, various juices including pear, many fruits, and salad.  You could also make your own mimosas.  It was good and since it was buffet, we were done quickly.  Then we showered and got ready. 
They told us that it was going to be a walking to tour and to wear comfortable shoes—we were going to do a lot of walking.  When we arrived in the lobby, they gave us radios that were on lanyards.  These allowed us to listen to the tour guide without being right next to him.  So if we saw something we wanted to take a picture of, we wouldn’t miss anything.  It happened to be raining that morning, so they also provide us rain ponchos.  I brought my own, but theirs were larger and allowed me to cover my backpack.  They also had a number of snacks.  We choose some to put in our bag for later.  They also provided water and told us to keep the empty bottles because all around Rome were fountains still fed by the 2000 year old aqua ducts.  The water was fresh and drinkable. 
Once everyone arrived, we got on the motor coach to do a quick driving tour of Rome.  The bus was comfortable and they gave us highlights as we drove around.  Then we got out and walked around Rome.  Our guide, Stefan, showed us a number of little things as we walked towards our first stop.  These were things that I would not have taken notice had he not said anything.  For example, there are these stones that are along the narrow alleys along the walls.  They were put there so that the carriages would not scrape the walls when they drove by.  They also made it fun.  On our way to our first stop, we went down the Piazza di Spagna (Spanish Steps).  He told us to count the steps as we went down.  Ardan counted 135.  He said there were 136, but we didn’t count the last step, which looked like a drain.  We were also shown the spot where Julius Caesar was killed on the senate floor.  The actual building does not exist anymore, but they know approximately where it stood.  It was very interesting to be standing in the very spot. 
Our first stop on the walking tour was the Trevi Fountain.  This is the famous fountain that they say if you throw a coin from your right hand over your left shoulder it means that you will return to Rome on day.  It was normally crowded, but they called Mickey ahead of time and he cleared the crowds with the rain.  We had the Trevi Fountain almost to ourselves.  We all got pictures and then a surprise—they provided gelatos.  We got cards to get two scopes of gelatos right by the Trevi Fountain. 
Next, we went to the Pantheon.  The Pantheon is amazing.  It is huge and the architecture is just amazing.  Our guide showed us a number of things about the design that made it even more amazing.  It was a great spot for pictures. 
After the Pantheon, we walked to Obika Mozzarella Bar to have lunch.  It included antipasti (grilled vegetables, bread, Prosciutto, fresh mozzarella) and pizza.  They brought out 4 different kinds of pizza.  First was a vegetarian (eggplant, squash, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese).  Next was white pizza, then cheese and tomato and finally cheese, tomato, and Prosciutto.  They finished it off with chocolate cake and café Italiano or Americano.  We then walked to the bus to take us to the Coliseum.
As we drove the coliseum the guide pointed out a number of highlights on the way.  He also gave us pointers on visiting the coliseum like how to avoid the many pickpockets.  At the coliseum, we parked the bus and walked to the best spot for pictures of the outside of the coliseum.  Because of the restorations, they choose a different spot to get the best pictures.  Then we were escorted to our private VIP tour of the coliseum.  We split up into groups of less than 20.  One of the huge benefits of doing an Adventures By Disney Tour is that you get VIP access to all the sites.  So, instead of standing in line to get in the coliseum, we were escorted directed into the coliseum.  Our first stop was the VIP area on the coliseum arena were the gladiators fought.  Of course that floor has been long gone, but they recreated a small section that they only allow VIPs.  We got the feel of being on the arena floor in front of 50, 000 spectators.  There, our guide, Valentina explained everything thing about the coliseum, how the games worked, and the small details you’d miss touring by yourself. 
While the parents were listening to the details, one of the guides entertained the kids.  He brought toy shields, swards, and helmets.  They took turns playing gladiators and emperor.  He explained in a kids way, how the games worked.  Next, we went to the lower level, which again, is not open to regular visitors.  We got to see where the gladiators got ready, where they stored the animals, and she showed us the machines that brought both of them up to the arena.  She explained that the games were morning, intermission and afternoon.  The morning was for the animals.  They released exotic animals brought home from their conquests.  They had “hunters” who fought and killed them.  Next, for the intermission, they had public executions.  For these executions, they would chain the prisoner to the wall and the animals would maul them to death.  The afternoon were the gladiator games.  After that, we were taken up to the 3rd level.  This is another VIP area.  We had the 3rd level to ourselves.  Throughout the tour, we were passing long lines, she was unlocking gates to allow us direct access, and we had private areas that only our group had access.  This allowed us on the 3rd level to take great pictures of the whole coliseum from the highest levels.  There were great views and much more information on the history of the coliseum and the surrounding areas. 
After the coliseum, we toured the Forum.  I could go on and on for hours about what they told us, but there is so much history here and you really need a guide to point out the little things that you would have missed. 
After we finished at the Forum, we headed back to the bus, but first another surprise.  We all got another pin for the coliseum.  The kids were excited to hand them out and pin them to their lanyard. 
After the tour, Ardan and I went back to the hotel.  We changed for a quick dip in the pool and then back up to the room to get ready for dinner.  We already made reservations for dinner, but the guides were available to make recommendations and reservations for dinner.  We ate at Osteria de Memmo.  It was actually one that the guides recommended and we saw a number of our fellow Adventurers there, so they were able to get reservations through the guides.  It is about a 10-15 min walk from the hotel, so we didn’t need a taxi.  The waiter did not speak much English, but the menu had English translations and for the most part, we know most of the items in Italian anyway – spaghetti marinara.  I had my English/Italian book which helped, but even so, he understood most of what we wanted.  For my antipasti, I got Tortellini in brodo, which was tortellini in beef broth.  It  was very good.  I got a bottle of the house wine (which I was able to take ½ the bottle with me since it was only me drinking).  Ardan got Spaghetti al Pomodoro (spaghetti with tomato sauce) and I got Spaghetti all’Amatriciana DOC, which was spaghetti with authentic ragu of Italian bacon, tomatoes, and pecorino cheese.   For my 2nd I had Scaloppini di vitellla al Marsala – Veal Marsala.  I asked the waiter to recommend his choice of the Veal Marsala or the Filet Mignon.  He recommend the veal.  Then Ardan and I shared the chocolate cake.  It was wonderful.  I ended with a limoncello.  It was a nice walk back. Tomorrow we visit the Vatican.